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Zenith media usa has reorganized its media resources group, and recruited veteran agency researcher Helen Katz to serve as what could be called its "toolmaker."

Ms. Katz, 37, comes to Zenith from a 10-year stint at Omnicom Group's Optimum Media, where she was VP-media research manager for the DDB Needham Worldwide unit in Chicago. And she sees her primary task in the new job as building proprietary research tools.

"More than ever, clients want accountability for their media dollars," Ms. Katz said.


At Optimum, she was instrumental in developing software that uses Nielsen Media Research data to examine viewer loyalty. Knowing that a TV show's most loyal viewers pay more attention to the commercials, Optimum emphasized the buying of those programs.

Zenith, owned jointly by Saatchi & Saatchi and Cordiant Communications Group, is known for its TV forecasting, a tradition that even predates its arrival in the U.S. Betsy Frank, the former Saatchi & Saatchi research guru, developed a national reputation for TV programming prognostication, and she brought her skills to Zenith when the media unit first came to the U.S. from Europe in 1995.

Ms. Katz said Zenith will continue its various forecasting propositions. But she'll be changing things.

"We'll now be emphasizing, in ways Zenith hasn't before, various proprietary research that will give insights on how people use media," she said, and how that usage is changing in an ever-fragmenting media world.

"Clients want a fuller understanding of media," she added.

Ms. Katz will develop tools under the Zoom moniker-Zenith Optimization of Media, a project that's been in place for the last few years.

Another tool that will fall under Ms. Katz's direction is an Internet site that can be used by Zenith employees and clients.

As media-buying services such as Zenith have grown, research has become of ever-increasing importance, Ms. Katz observed. Part of the reason, she acknowledged, is the influence of competitor Carat, which has entered the U.S. and puts a major emphasis on research.

A U.K. native, Ms. Katz came to the U.S. in 1983 as a student. Before joining Needham Harper Worldwide in 1989, she was an assistant professor of advertising at Michigan State University. Getting a job at an ad agency after teaching advertising for two years was a real eye-opener.


"In academia, I would have the luxury of working weeks or months on a project, and a lot of it was theoretically based," she recalled. Then she was introduced to "the real world-a project there had to be turned around in hours, or a few days at the most."

A past president of the Media Research Club of Chicago, Ms. Katz also is a member of the Advertising Research Foundation's Video Electronic Measurement Council.

Asked to give her opinions on TV's primary data provider, Nielsen Media Research, Ms. Katz chooses her word carefully.

"They're slow to change, which is a shame. They certainly have lots of room for improvement," she said.

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